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2023-24 Puck Drop Preview: St Louis Blues

Colton Parayko trade; 2023-24 St Louis Blues

Last Word on Hockey’s Puck Drop Previews are back for the 2023-24 season! As the regular season approaches, Last Word will preview each team’s current outlook and stories to watch for the upcoming year. We’ll also do our best to project how things will go for each team throughout the campaign. Today, we’re previewing the 2023-24 St Louis Blues.

2023-24 St Louis Blues

2022-23 Season

It was a mixed bag for the St. Louis Blues last season and that resulted in somewhat of a clear-out. The Blues realized that time was running out on their contending window and made some trades. Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko were both in contract years, so general manager Doug Armstrong traded them both. Those deals saved the Blues from letting both players walk away for nothing. This was only the second time since 2011-12 that the Blues missed out on the Stanley Cup playoffs.

However, it wasn’t all bad as Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou got new contracts. Armstrong also got first-round picks for Tarasenko and O’Reilly. It took some guts for Armstrong to give up on the season, but he did so and got some good returns. Despite this, some of the Blues current predicament is on Armstrong for handing out some hefty deals.

2022-23 Off-season

The Blues did make a deal to get Kevin Hayes from the Philadelphia Flyers in hopes he can find his game again. Depth forwards MacKenzie MacEachern and Oskar Sundqvist are also off-season additions. Malcolm Subban comes over from the Buffalo Sabres as cover for Jordan Binnington.

St. Louis did lose some players like Thomas Greiss to retirement. Forwards Tyler Pitlick, Logan Brown, Matthew Highmore and Josh Leivo have all moved on as well. Defenceman Steven Santini and Dmitri Samorukov have also departed from the club.

Projected Lineup


Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Jordan Kyrou

Brandon SaadBrayden SchennKasperi Kapanen

Jake Neighbours-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Vrana

Alexei Toropchenko -Oskar Sundqvist-Sammy Blais

Extras: Mackenzie MacEachern, Nathan Walker, Zach Dean, Nikita Alexandrov

Top Six

Thomas and Kyrou are going to need to put up some massive point totals to give the Blues a shot at making the post-season. St Louis will go as far as Thomas and Kyrou will push them. Buchnevich is a stable veteran and can put in the goals when needed. However, the main problem is the Russian’s injury history. A healthy Buchnevich will give the Blues a chance to stay in games. His shooting percentage has been over 17 percent since the trade with the New York Rangers a few seasons ago.

Schenn was recently named the team’s captain for the upcoming season. He provided stability in the lineup and got his second season with 65 or more points. Schenn was also pretty durable and played in all 82 games last season. Saad has also taken up a leadership role and been a solid veteran with the club. The veteran forward can also be called up to get himself 20 goals in most campaigns. Kapanen and Vrana did find some chemistry together when both came over at the deadline. Could that mean they get put on the same line at some point in the campaign?

Bottom Six

Kapanen and Hayes both seem to be reclamation projects at this point. However, Kapanen’s aforementioned cohesiveness with Vrana gives him some positive mojo going into this season. Kapanen may be able to gain back some of the confidence in his game that he lost with Detroit and Pittsburgh. Hayes can still be a decent two-way centre that can score goals and throw his weight around. However, Hayes seemingly struggled at the end of his tenure with the Flyers. Neighbours has showed some promise, but has yet to play more than 43 games in a season with the big club.

Sundqvist and Blais are both back with the club after being with other teams. Both are known for being able to throw their bodies around and play decent on defence. Toropchenko got double-digit goals in what was his first extended action with the big club.

Dean likely spends time in the AHL to get some more seasoning. Alexandrov also some tantalizing potential as well. Walker and MacEachern should see some playing time.


Nick LeddyColton Parayko

Torey KrugJustin Faulk

Marco ScandellaRobert Bortuzzo

Extra: Calle Rosen, Scott Perunovich

Top Four

On paper, the Blues have a solid top four. However, games aren’t played on paper. St Louis struggled mightily in its own ended of the ice. This unit seems to be missing Alex Pietrangelo on the back end. Pietrangelo won himself a Stanley Cup with the Vegas Golden Knights while this group is trying to find its identity. Armstrong may also be missing Vince Dunn, who is doing well with the Seattle Kraken.

The Blues penalty kill struggled and were third-worst in the league at 72.4 percent. St Louis also struggled on 5-on-5 play and the top four looked like shells of their big-money selves. This group should be performing better, but hasn’t been as good as advertised. There were even some rumours of one more of these defenders being moved.

Injuries having seemingly hurt Parayko and Krug, but both are still good blueliners. Krug was seemingly the answer to replace Pietrangelo, but that seemed to be a bit of a reach. Faulk did have a career-best 50 points last season and Leddy has pretty good offensive instincts. These players are still talented and can still rebound. If healthy, they can give St. Louis a shot at a bounce-back campaign.

The Bottom Pair

Bortuzzo and Scandella seem to be your prototypical bottom pair. They won’t get as much as the top four, but will be needed to pitch in. These two are a little more defence-minded than the top four. Rosen will likely get some minutes and lend a hand. Will Perunovich finally break through and earn that coveted roster spot? He’s played well in the pre-season, but may have to start in the AHL.


Jordan Binnington

Joel Hofer

It seems that the Blues go as Binnington does. One night Binnington looks like the goalie that helped carry them to the 2019 Stanley Cup. On other nights, he looks like his emotions get the better of him. There were some highlights where Binnington shut down the high-powered Rangers. However, there were some incidents involving the Minnesota Wild last season. Head coach Craig Berube has expressed frustration with his top goalie at times. However, Binnington can be a productive netminder if he’s in the right head space.

Hofer played well in AHL Springfield and netted a .921 save percentage while going 25-15-5. He got the call into the show, which got parlayed into a spot on Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships. Any dip in form could see Hofer steal playing time from Binnington this season. Hofer is still only 25 years old and can push Binnington.

Players to Watch

Jordan Binnington

Can the fiery goalie contain his emotions and play like the Cup-winning goalie that was? Binnington had to start a career-high 60 games and that can wear on a goalie. Greiss struggled as a backup last season, which put more on Binnington’s plate. If Hofer can take some of the work load off Binnington’s shoulders, he could be more productive. However, the jury is still out if Binnington is worth that massive contract he got.

Colton Parayko

Parayko is a great mix of size and speed with many people singing his praises. However, it was an off year for him in 2022-23. He’s got a huge contract to live up to and eyes are on him. Parayko does have the tools to turn things around and can be an asset to St. Louis.

Scott Perunovich

Is the time now for the young defender? He was great in college with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and won the Hobey Baker Award. However, will he get the minutes to earn himself a roster spot. Krug is out injured for the pre-season, but should be ready to go for the opener. If St. Louis slides down the standings and sells, will the Minnesota native finally get featured?


This team can still make the post-season, but how far can it go? It all depends on the defence and the misfit forwards bouncing back. Players like Hayes and Vrana know there may not be lots of opportunities left if they don’t start strong.

Berube may also be coaching on borrowed time. A slow start could doom him to the unemployment line despite him coaxing what he can out of this group. The Blues will get the sixth spot in the Central Division and just miss out on the post-season.

Main photo by: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports



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